Leahy asks President to consult with Senate on nomination

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(Host) Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is calling on President Bush to consult with Senate Democrats before he makes a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Leahy joined forty-two other Senate Democrats in sending a letter to the President that seeks cooperation on future Supreme Court appointments.

Leahy is the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. The committee is preparing for possible vacancies on the high court. Chief Justice William Rehnquist has cancer and may announce his retirement at the end of the June term.

Leahy says it’s up to the president to seek cooperation or confrontation.

(Leahy) “The whole process starts with the president. If the president wants to unite and not divide, he could come up with a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court that every single Republican would support, every single Democrat would support. And I think the whole country would breathe a sigh of relief.”

(Dillon) Leahy says he and other Demcorats would not oppose a conservative nominee.

(Leahy) “I don’t think anybody has a concern if the president named a Republican and a Republican who’s conservative. What we have an objection to if he names somebody’s who’s going to be an activist, somebody who’s in there to make the Supreme Court an arm of the Republican party. There are a lot of Republican jurors who have handled courts in a very impartial, very judicious fashion. They could easily go on the Supreme Court.”

(Dillon) Leahy pointed to cooperation between President Clinton and Republican Senate leaders as an example of a successful Supreme Court nomination process.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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